11th Dec, 2018

Battle begins to save Redditch library services as county makes cuts

Ross Crawford 24th Oct, 2018

YOUR library needs you – that’s the message to Redditch residents as Worcestershire County Council launches a 90 day consultation into the future of the service.

In the balance is the future of both Redditch Library and Woodrow Library, even though county officers recognise the high level of use and need the two provide.

The cash-strapped county has a legal requirement to provide library services but is looking to make savings of £1million in the service by 2020-21 and says to do so ‘an approach is required that will substantially transform library service delivery models’.

Redditch County Councillor and Labour leader at County Hall Robin Lunn said: “Three libraries are in the top five for all categories – that’s most value for money and libraries with the greatest aggregate need.

“These Redditch, Kidderminster, and Evesham and I asked surely those three libraries were not going to close but I did not get that re-assurance.

“The future of Redditch Library should be healthy, particularly with the premises already sharing with Job Centre Plus – its a prototype for other ones.”

A county survey also found Redditch Library was also to be the most cost efficient in Worcestershire.

The future for Woodrow Library is also uncertain, as despite scoring high for need due to high levels of deprivation in the area, it did poorly on value for money.

Coun Pattie Hill (Lab, Arrow Valley West) said: “Children use that library, families use that library. They can’t close this library, the children won’t be able to get to the one in the town centre.

“It’s more than a library, it always has been, it’s a community hub.”

Redditch Labour Party activists have launched a petition to save the libraries, collecting more than 300 signatures in less than four hours at Woodrow.

Campaigners were joined by Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Redditch Rebecca Jenkins who said: “As a teacher I know that local libraries are at the heart of our community whether as a place to borrow books, access the internet or find local information.

“Many people do not have access to the internet at home and so the closure of any of our Libraries would be blight to our community.”

Councillor Lucy Hodgson (Con, Malvern Chase) told a County Hall full council meeting last week that Worcestershire had already won national praise for its innovative approach to running library services while making savings of £3.7million since 2011.

She added that further savings of £800,000 were required and would be done so while still meeting local needs through making sustainable changes to the service and improving reading levels and literacy.

Worcestershire County Council will be publishing the details of the online consultation on Monday. Look out for your Redditch Standard to get the link.

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